Capitol Beat – PORAC Priorities in 2017

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

PORAC-Sponsored Bill: AB 1428, Transparency for Law Enforcement

The California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in addition to other social justice organizations, have been shopping around various legislative proposals to lawmakers and their staff that would open up the internal affairs and district attorney investigations of peace officers. The problem is that these proposals would attempt this by requiring the release of investigatory files, opening disciplinary hearings to the public and releasing information from an officer’s personnel file. PORAC strongly disagrees with this approach, as it does not take into consideration an officer’s privacy or safety. Last year, rank-and-file law enforcement formed a working group and created transparency language that we feel will reasonably bring the public in on the process of complaint investigations and inquiries regarding officer-involved shootings and serious uses of force.

At the time this article was written, the transparency bill was not yet in print. However, because of the breadth of the content of the bill, it will likely be double-referred. This means that rather than going to one policy committee, the fiscal committee and then the floor, it will go to two policy committees, the fiscal committee and then the floor. It will likely be assigned to the judiciary and public safety committees before moving to the fiscal committee — if it is successful.

Once the bill is out in print, we will be setting up meetings with legislators and staff to educate them and discuss the details and purpose of the bill. 

Assembly Member Evan Low, who has stood by PORAC’s side through many issues during his tenure, has agreed to author the bill, and Assembly Member Gipson has signed on as the principal co-author. Additionally, Assembly Members Bigelow, Cooper, Lackey and Santiago, along with Senator Wilk, have all signed on as co-authors. Below is a brief outline of AB 1428 (Low), sponsored by PORAC, CAHP, LAPPL and ALADS.

AB 1428:

  • Requires each department or agency to provide written notification to a complaining party as to the status of the ongoing complaint investigation, at least every 45 days until final disposition
  • Requires all county district attorneys who conduct an investigation of an officer-involved shooting to report the findings of that investigation on their website within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation
  • Requires each department or agency that employs peace officers to post reports on its website about serious uses of force by its officers within 30 days of completing any investigation
  • Requires each department or agency to post, at least quarterly, a report on its website containing aggregate statistical information on serious uses of force by its officers
  • Authorizes an agency or department that employs peace officers to establish a mediation program to resolve biased policing complaints; this program would allow complainants to speak directly to the officer(s) they filed the complaint about
  • Requires each department or agency that employs peace officers to post on its website its procedures for investigating complaints by members of the public against its personnel
  • Requires each department or agency that employs peace officers to make available for public inspection the rules and procedures that it has adopted for imposing discipline upon its peace officers and providing for the administrative appeal of an adverse decision

RIPA Proposed Regulations

Another priority for PORAC this session relates to legislation passed last year, AB 953 (Weber), which requires peace officers to collect racial identity information for each stop they make. The bill also created the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board within the Department of Justice, and tasked it with recommending the regulations and types of data collected by officers.  

Currently, the Attorney General is in the process of reviewing the regulations recommended by the RIPA Board. PORAC is asking that the AG remove the language relating to the use of a “unique identifier” for each individual officer and to reduce the number of data points required to be collected by an officer at each stop. Finally, PORAC believes the type of stops where this data is collected should not include calls for service or violations committed in the officer’s presence. We are hopeful that Attorney General Becerra will agree.

SB 54: “Sanctuary State”

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León is attempting to keep law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration agents with his introduction of SB 54. This bill is one of the highest-profile bills in California, as it goes directly against President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

SB 54 would place certain restrictions on state and local government entities in their interactions with federal immigration authorities. PORAC opposes this measure for three critical reasons:

  1. The bill requires a local law enforcement agency to report to the Department of Justice if they are involved in special immigration task forces. These task forces can be costly and possibly non-reimbursable. Additionally, federal funding to our local agencies could be put at risk.
  2. SB 54 plans to remove people with immigrant status from California jails and place them in an outside detention facility — thus separating them from their families, communities and networks, and creating even more difficulties in the family unit.
  3. The breakdown of local, state and federal partnerships will prevent our officers from being able to do their jobs; therefore, violent criminals will remain on the streets and our families will be in danger.

PORAC’s main concern is public safety. We protect all Californians, immigrants and nonimmigrants alike. By targeting immigrants who are not criminals, we violate all that we stand for and lose the trust we have within our communities.